Economic issues, not the refugee crisis, at the top of mind for Canadian voters: Ipsos poll

The Syrian refugee crisis has captured the attention of millions of Canadians over the last two weeks as heartbreaking images from the region put a face to the humanitarian crisis.

But how does that factor into the ongoing election campaign? It turns out, not many are willing to let the international crisis sway how they vote.

A new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News suggests the top issue for many Canadians is the economy.

The refugee crisis seems to have occupied a lot of… column inches in newspapers,” Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos said in an interview Monday. “But when you really look at how it’s impacting the vote, of the several issues that we looked at, it was at the bottom of the list.”

It’s not that Canadians don’t care about the refugee crisis , 16 per cent of respondents told Ipsos that a politicians’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis was “absolutely critical” in determining their vote.

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READ MORE: 5 things the Canadian government can do to immediately help Syrian refugees

But relative to other issues – the economy, taxes, reducing greenhouse gasses, ousting Stephen Harper, issues related to the Senate and Mike Duffy trial, the fight against ISIS, and a national childcare plan – the refugee crisis ranks far behind each.

Infographic by Janet Cordahi

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“What’s really important to the campaign right now is whether or not the parties are seen to have a good approach to the economy and whether or not they can actually deal with what people think is rough economic waters at the moment,” Bricker said. “Based on the data is that when you take a look at it, in spite of all the other conversations people are having, the thing that people are really paying attention to the most, is the economy.”

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The Syrian refugee crisis immediately became an election issue after Alan Kurdi’s body was photographed lying face down in the sand after he and his family tried to escape the Middle East war zone.  Roughly four million people have fled the country since war broke out in 2011.

READ MORE: Haven’t paid attention to the election campaign? Here’s what you missed

The three main parties were mixed in their response to the crisis. NDP leader Tom Mulcair has said that he’s confident the Canadian government could bring 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year.

Conservative Stephen Harper promised early in the election campaign to bring in 20,000 refugees over four years – 10,000 Syrian refugees and, if re-elected, a further 10,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

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Liberal leader Justin Trudeau set his number the highest, promising to bring in 25,000 refugees.

-With files from Eric Sorensen

Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos Reid.” This poll was conducted between September 11 and September 13, with a sample of 980 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel and is accurate to within 3.6 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

View the full Ipsos tables below:


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